“The Gates” stood for 16 days in New York’s Central Park and was dismantled. No parts were available to the public. “The Crackers” stood for 26 minutes and was dismantled. It was fed to the grateful public ducks.
Like Christo’s “The Gates,” But Edible
“The Gates” was a project 26 years in the planning, which lasted for 16 days, from February 12 to 28, 2005. An installation by the artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude, it covered the 23 miles (37 kilometers) of walkways in Central Park with 7,503 saffron-colored metal “gates,” poles on either side of the walkway attached by a connecting pole overhead, from which hung saffron-colored fabric panels (referred to by many as “the curtains”).
The gates were 16 feet tall and varied in width from 5.5 feet wide to 18 feet wide, accommodating the 25 different widths of walkways in the park. The free-hanging saffron panels fell to approximately 7 feet above the ground. The installation took five days, beginning February 7; and demolition took three weeks.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who donated the work to the City of New York, priced the installation at $21 million. The cost was borne by the artists—they donated their labors and the cost of materials to the City of New York. (Outside experts valued it at half that—click here for a detailed analysis in The New York Times.) Photo of “The Gates” at right by Dawid Pawelec.
As art imitates art, New York photographer Jane Hanstein Cunniffe created a parallel installation, “The Crackers” (photos top left and below). It required three dozen peanut butter and cheddar crackers and spanned nearly 23 inches along a footbridge in the park. The cost, borne by the artists, was $2.50. Unlike the 26-year planning cycle experienced by Christo, the installation was completed with no permits or bureaucracy, and was dismantled in 26 minutes.
One might say “The Crackers” is a worthy heir to the question Lily Tomlin asked in her 1985 one-woman Broadway show, The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. Referring to an Andy Warhol soup can canvas, she asked, “Soup or art?” While a Warhol can only hang on the wall, and is thus, we opine, art, here, the question “food or art” an be answered “both.” After it served as an art installation and before its afterlife as an online art exhibit (where it enjoyed 3 million clicks), “The Crackers” became a tasty meal for Central Park ducks.
Unlike Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s nonprofit venture, “The Crackers” is entirely for profit. You can buy your souvenir items for “The Crackers”—tee shirts, mugs, posters et al—here. For more information about this installation, click here.